Marketing encompasses much more than just advertising and selling. It's how you find out about your customer and what they're interested in; it's how you choose to reach out to them and through which avenues; it's also about the way in which all of this is measured to ensure it has been worthwhile. And, more than ever, it's about storytelling – the ability to communicate powerful brand messages which resonate with your target audience and leave a lasting impression.
Put simply, it's a key element to any business, and – with increasing time demands, as well as a growing imperative for success – it's little surprise that some companies are looking towards external marketing companies to lead the charge.
Choosing a marketing company is a huge decision: you're essentially trusting a team of strangers to tell your story, something you're incredibly passionate about. So what sets a great marketing company apart from a standard one? Who should you trust – and who should you hire? Here we will explore the key elements that make up the these extraordinary companies...
1. Communication & Service
A good marketing company needs to be an extension of your team – which means an outstanding level of communication from the moment you make an enquiry. A great marketing company will make your business their business and will feel just as passionate about it as you do. Great communication should be implicit and run throughout every part of the process. You should have direct contact with each person on the team (ideally in one central place, such as a project management system.) When you reach out with a message or a question, it should be answered the same day. Projects should be delivered on time, and if not, you should be advised in plenty of time and given an alternative timeframe. At every stage, a great marketing company is going to deliver consistent communication so you're well and truly in the picture. You should have a clear view of the project, its overall direction and the expected results.
2. Experience & Prior Work
The most obvious barometer of a great marketing company is simple: great work! Any agency worth its salt is going to show examples of their existing work, as well as logos and testimonials from companies they already work with. You'll often be able to check out detailed case studies of the work that was carried out so that future prospects can see the quality of customer service and standard of work, as well as the impact this had on the company's bottom line. ROI is important when separating the average companies from the great companies, so this is a big deal!
3. Process & Way of Working
Working with a great marketing company should be easy and painless. Don't be afraid to ask questions about how they work and how much input will be required on your part. You should expect to have a level of involvement that fits around your specific needs, and it should be clear exactly how your marketing company operates – their timeframes, turnarounds, packages and more. You should look to establish how a marketing company plans and creates concepts, what their goals are, how those goals are measured and whether they can quantify their results.
4. Specialism & Expertise
As we've already covered, marketing is a multidisciplinary thing. The best marketing companies offer numerous services, from copywriting and design, to outreach and promotional expertise, so it's important to make sure they have committed, dedicated in-house experts to work on each stage of the process. This is going to get you much better results than a 'one man band' approach whereby one person will look after a variety of different areas. You're paying for expertise, so make sure you get it!
The great intangible of marketing, but impossible to overlook. Standing out among the crowd in the digital age takes real creativity – as well as a lot of hustle. Creating high quality work that will reflect what you need whether that be brand awareness, more customers, increase signups or traffic to your website - great execution should get you this. Below are a couple of examples of great marketing execution...
Metro Trains (The Dumb Ways To Die guys) – This campaign sums up the power of branded content. What started out with the phenomenally popular animated video which has now been viewed by over 83 million people on YouTube. What's more, the result was so successful that it reduced accidents and deaths by 21% and 1 million young people actually pledged to be safer around trains.
British Airways #lookup – A great example of cohesion between online content marketing and offline advertising. The campaign featured posters of children who point every time a British Airways plane flies overhead. The poster features the child pointing at the plane, but amazingly also showed the plane’s real flight number as well as the destination that the plane is arriving from! The hashtag then encourages the sharing on social media and people to start talking about British Airways.
When you make the decision that you need to outsource some or all of your marketing efforts, it's often a big leap. There's no playing down the fact that this is a crucial decision; you're placing your brand – arguably your most prized commodity – into the hands of a team of people you hardly know. It's important to carry out due diligence and make sure that the company you choose is up to the task. Check out their existing work, do your homework about their processes, and consult the advice and reviews of previous customers. Perhaps most importantly, talk to the people who will be working with you – you can often get a strong gut feeling about whether they are or aren't the right people to be working with you.